Accept No Substitutes!

Nor will the Hollywood dealmakers have the guts to cast a plain Jane such as Balasko in the lesbian role. Maybe they'd settle for a proven comedian like Rosie O'Donnell or (shudder) Roseanne, but more likely they'll make Marijo a babe. Similarly, the role of Laurent (who gets most of the best lines) will probably go to this week's TV sitcom star looking to make the transition to film. It's hard to imagine an American actor handsome enough to be convincing as a womanizer, funny enough to deliver Laurent's punch lines with just the right mixture of sensitivity and swagger, and thespian enough to expose just the right amount of vulnerability under Laurent's male chauvinist swagger to make him likable. Whether brushing off a pesky rose vendor with "No thanks, we've already fucked," or, in a drunken, jealous rage insulting all of the female patrons of a quaint mountainside cafe, Alain Chabat is terrific. One minute Laurent is despondent, convinced his wife doesn't love him any more. The next minute he's heeding an old streetwalker's advice and fighting for Loli's heart. Chabat handles the mood swings with ease. And when an old flame of Marijo's suddenly appears on the scene and brings out Loli's jealous side, Chabat's expression perfectly captures Laurent's perverse glee at the turn of events and, without a word being spoken, elicits belly laughs from the audience.

Accomplished acting, biting observational humor, and an unconventional love triangle -- French Twist has all the elements of a classic French farce. Just see it before Hollywood does.

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